HONOLULU – The Texans traded a sixth-round draft pick for Chris Myers in 2008. That trade is looking pretty good right about now.
Myers has started all 64 games since joining the Texans from the Denver Broncos four years ago. He has solidified himself as one of the best centers in football over the last couple of seasons, punctuated by his first-career Pro Bowl this week.
"That's been a long time coming," Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said Saturday after Myers and the AFC practiced at Aloha Stadium. "He's been so consistent. He's worked really hard at his craft, and it's a great tribute to how much he's put in and how much he does for us as a team, because he's very important for us all across the front."
Dennison came to Houston in 2010 after 15 seasons with the Broncos. He was Denver's offensive line coach when the Broncos drafted Myers in the sixth round out of Miami in 2005. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was Denver's offensive coordinator at the time.
The Texans run the same zone blocking scheme that Kubiak and Dennison ran in Denver. As the center, Myers – who was named a team captain in 2011 – is a critical component of that system's success in Houston.
"He understands what we're trying to do," Dennison said. "He communicates. He ties both sides of the line together. He helps the quarterback. Anything the quarterback does at the line of scrimmage, he has to push across the line because sometimes in a loud stadium the tackles can't hear. He keeps it all tied together and does a great job with that."
With Myers leading the offensive line, the Texans ranked second in rushing this season with a franchise-record 153.0 yards per game. Arian Foster ranked fifth in the league with 1,224 rushing yards. Ben Tate ran for 942 yards and ranked seventh in the NFL with 5.4 yards per carry.
Myers was the Texans' only lineman to make the Pro Bowl, but left tackle Duane Brown was a Pro Bowl alternate and second-team Associated Press All-Pro. Right tackle Eric Winston missed out on second-team All-Pro honors by one vote.
"I tell you what, he deserves it," Kubiak said of Myers. "We've got a few (linemen) that had great years. I thought Duane had a tremendous year. Our group as a group was excellent, but Chris, here's a guy who we got for a sixth-round draft choice, comes to our place, turns himself into a Pro Bowl football player. That's what the game's all about."
Myers was cut by the Broncos before the start of his rookie season. He spent the next four weeks on Denver's practice squad before being promoted to the active roster.
After appearing in nine games as a rookie on special teams, Myers played on special teams in all 16 games in 2006. He started the first five games of the 2007 season at left guard before sliding over to center for the final 11 games in place of the injured Tom Nalen. Texans general manager/executive vice president Rick Smith traded for Myers in the following offseason.
"It's been a crazy ride for those seven years, but I just can't be thankful enough for this experience," Myers said on Friday. "Obviously, you hope to get to a point like this, but you don't know if it's ever going to happen. It's been fun, but it's been real humbling, though.
"It's been eventful. It's been unbelievable. It's a great experience to be a part of. (I'm) just real happy to be selected, and it's pretty cool being out there with obviously the top guys in the NFL."
That's a group with which Myers now officially belongs.
"I'm happy for Myers," Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, a second-time Pro Bowler who played with Myers in Houston from 2008-10, said this week. "The (Texans) offensive line don't get a lot of recognition, but Myers came here, and I think more guys on that line might should've been here. Hey, that's how it works, but the offensive line did a great job all year long for Arian and the running backs."
Broncos running back Willis McGaee, another second-time Pro Bowler, was reunited with Myers this week after last playing with him in college at Miami.
"What makes him a good center is that he went to the University of Miami," McGahee said with a grin. "He learned from the best. It's a great pleasure to be playing with him one again, even though we've gone our separate ways in the NFL. I'm just glad to have him out here. It's his first one. (If he) keeps working hard, it'll pay off in the long run, just like it did this year."
Myers said the best part of the trip has been sharing it with his family that he flew out from Miami, along with his wife and two daughters.
The Texans' offensive linemen are notorious for fining each other for media exposure and other accolades, but Myers said he hasn't taken much grief from his teammates over the last few weeks.
"A little bit, but for the most part, they're all real happy for me," Myers said. "I wish a couple more guys could've been out here, but I'm happy to represent 'em."